Slamdance ’17: Suck it Up Review

Slamdance '17: Suck it Up Review
3.0Overall Score

This female-lead film directed by Jordon Canning (We Were Wolves, 2014) looks from the outset to be promising Erin Carter as Faye and Grace Glowicki as Ronnie in SUCK IT UP @ 2016 Permanent Geranium Lake Pictures Inc_JS_A1A0766indie fare, and my thoughts were that it would be an interesting exploration of grief from the unique perspective of two very different, flawed young women. As Julia Hoff the writer says in the press notes, “we wanted to tell a story that was centered around two women that was true to our demographic” and that “was sincerely feminine, but with nothing lady-like about it.”  And while she succeeds in doing that to some degree, in other ways she falls short.

The film depicts two young twenty-somethings and recently estranged best friends Ronnie and Faye, played by actor-producers and real best friends Grace Glowicki and Erin Carter respectively; showing their coming together over the death of Ronnie’s brother and Faye’s first love and ex Garrett from cancer two months earlier.

They are both grieving for the loss of Garrett in very different ways, Ronnie in all out rebellion drinking herself into oblivion, until Faye has to rescue her and take on an enforced drying out trip to Invermere, British Colombia (literally dragging the passed out Ronnie into her car). Whilst the motherly and rather uptight Faye likes planning ‘fun schedules’, creating vision boards and filling up her time craft-making, as well as of course, looking after Ronnie.

You wonder how they could ever be such close friends, but they also clearly need each other, as Ronnie continually goes off the rails and needs reigning in, and Faye has to learn to let go, have fun, and release some of the pent-up emotions. We also meet a character called Alex (Toby Marks) who hides a secret that also distances Faye and Ronnie, and there is a romantic sub-plot involving a pot dealer and space enthusiast with diabetes and asthma called Granville (Dan Beirne) who hooks up with Faye.

And there are some great scenes and dialogue in the film that echo the dark biting humour of Girls or the writing of Diablo Cody, the opening scene for one where Ronnie drunkenly knocks herself out while mowing the lawn. As well as some memorable one-liners as the girls rip into each other’s perceived flaws. For example when Ronnie protest that she doesn’t need rehab and Faye tartly replies: “The dinner table on which you vomited would beg to differ”. Or when Ronnie says to Faye after being told her live like you’ll die tomorrow philosophy is clichéd: “You wouldn’t know fun if it sucked you on your puffy nips”.

The washed out visuals are also pleasing eye candy and really capture the beauty of Invermere, the third leading character in the film, with its lovely vistas, majestic mountains and lakes and quaint town. The film also captures fairly well the seedier parts of small town life such as The White House bar, where working men or ’townies’ go to prey upon young women like Ronnie and Faye.

But that being said there is something missing from this film. The characters though quite relatable, still feel a bit too forced and simplistic. Faye a little too uptight with her constant mothering, micro-managing, organising and craft-making. Ronnie a little too reckless with her continuous drinking binges, predatory flirting, shagging and drug-taking, making it hard to really invest wholeheartedly in characters that you feel should be more complex, subtle and nuanced. Whilst the other characters like Alex and Granville and sub-plots that they feature in, don’t feel fully fleshed and seem only an afterthought.

It’s a good effort to document better the lives and feelings of young women, but one that unfortunately doesn’t stay too long in the memory.

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